Published on 2016.10.07


  • Rodolphe Gautier: “My dream? A full and live TV coverage of the whole race.”

    © Loris von Siebenthal 

    After two successful years at the head of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud Organizing Committee, Rodolphe Gautier and his team continue their quest for innovation as they plan the 2017 edition. 

    Question: Rodolphe, take us behind the scenes, give us an overview of the 2016 edition and how it went?

    RG: The Organizing Committee worked hard last winter to try to bring a new dynamic to the event. One of the most visible changes was the new website: the redesign took a considerable amount of time. The Société Nautique de Genève has been redecorated and the new enhanced Club House welcomes its members and competitors in a more cozy yet dynamic environment. Last, but not least, all the Bol d’Or Mirabaud racing documents have been reviewed. Innocuous changes as far as the competitors are concerned, but important nonetheless. These developments will allow us to progress and fix some of the imperfections ahead of the 2017 event. 

    The Organizing Committee believes it is essential to avoid major changes hence the reluctance to modify well-established formulas. We are moving forward step by step.

    Q: What is new for the 2017 edition of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud?

    RG: We have implemented a three-year plan that takes us all the way to the 80th edition of the Bol d’Or with a focus on ramping up the event. The Organizing Committee is motivated, the partners and the Club support us in our vision and the volunteers are committed. With such a positive backdrop to the event, ideas abound.

    Q: How will you reconcile the prestige with the popularity of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud? What measures will you take?

    RG: The prestige of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud is intimately linked to its relationship with the Société Nautique de Genève and sailing which has historically been viewed as an elitist sport. 

    The Bol d’Or Mirabaud is unique in that every year it attracts exceptional sailors that race alongside amateur sportsmen and women. The former seek to inscribe their names in history, the latter to participate in Lake Geneva’s greatest sailing festival, an event that is far from elitist. Almost anything that floats and has a mast can enter, after that it’s mostly a matter of patience amongst the competitors… 

    With hindsight, the history of this regatta only retains two facts per edition: the name of the winning boat and the number of participants. This is solid proof that prestige and popularity are inextricably linked to the Bol d’Or Mirabaud!

    Q: What would be your wildest dream for the Bol d’Or?

    RG: Well, everyone has their own ideas and often they can be quite unusual; one included setting up solar-powered fans to provide some wind in the becalmed areas of the lake, for example. For my part, I would like to see the race televised, but this requires significant resources despite the advances in technology. 

    Q: Nine months out – what is on the Organizing Committee’s job list?

    RG: We have just finished debriefing the 2016 event with our partners and at the moment, we are working on partnerships for future editions and on possible logistical changes. Once this phase is complete, we will identify the desired improvements and implement them where feasible. We are also finalizing our communications plan for the 79th edition. And finally, we will be studying comparable events, finding out how they operate and with what means. This is always informative. 

    Jacky Touron: a happy volunteer

    © Miguel Bueno

    Jacky Touron has already saved the date in his 2017 calendar. At 69, this sailing and car enthusiast is delighted to consider himself a member of the vast family of volunteers that serve the Bol d’Or Mirabaud each year.

    “There’s an amazing dynamic,” he said. “Everyone contributes to the event’s success; the atmosphere is special and everyone takes pleasure in their work.” 

    Jacky started volunteering for the Bol d’Or in 2008, supporting the harbourmaster. Since 2011, he has managed the crane and wouldn’t give it up for the world! “My role gives me the opportunity to meet a lot of people. I try to meet all the sailors’ requirements and to take the best care of their equipment,” he said. “I love being a volunteer. I attended car rallies for 50 years and there were always lots of volunteers – through my work for the Bol d’Or I am trying to give back; to return the favor.”    

    A huge supporter of the warm character of the Bol d’Or, Jacky Touron hopes to contribute to the success of this must-do event for a long time to come!

    Interview with Robin Maeder, winner of the C1 Class and Xavier Revil, overall winner of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud 

    © DR

    Robin Maeder won the C1 Class in its inaugural year as part of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud on his small Eagles 20 XXL sports catamaran. “It was an unforgettable experience,” he said. While Xavier Revil, a member of the Spindrift squad, won the event overall on board Ladycat powered by Spindrift. The two sailors appear worlds apart…but are they? They reflect on their respective Bol d’Or experiences:

    Q: Do you have good memories of your Bol d’Or on a sports catamaran?

    RM: It was an unforgettable experience. I had long periods with light conditions which were ideal for the little catamaran. And overnight, a storm broke and I was able to increase my boat speed, at times up to 26 knots. It was an adrenalin-packed Bol d’Or and definitely a race to repeat! 

    Q: It is often said that luck plays a big part in lake sailing. Was your win down to luck or a team effort?

    XR: It is true that there are always surprises on the lake because the surrounding topography greatly influences the wind. When you race the Bol d’Or Mirabaud, you expect different conditions depending on where you are positioned on the lake. And between these different conditions, you also have transition zones, areas with no wind at all that mean that the leading boats park up and the trailing boats catch up. It is important to get out of these buffer zones in the lead and for that you need a bit of luck, but more importantly, you need a good overall picture of the race area. The element of luck is not so big as the best teams are usually found at the front of the fleet… although even they need a little bit along with the knowledge to put the boat in the right place at the right time while remaining focused on boat handling, trimming, making the boat go fast, strategy and tactics. 

    The race is long; there is a lot of boat handling and many strategic and tactical choices. You have to be well prepared to have a hope of doing well. It is a subtle mix of professionalism, of concentration and a hint of luck that can lead to victory. 

    Q: Do sports catamarans have a place in the Bol d’Or Mirabaud fleet?

    RM: Absolutely, but of a certain size in order to guarantee momentum even in light wind.  

    Q: What was the key to your success? The moment that changed everything?

    RM: Concentration and determination because despite having to make a pit stop on a French beach to repair a spinnaker halyard, we did not lose motivation and managed to get back into the race!

    XR: On our way back to Geneva, off Thonon, we sailed into a transition zone and the leaders all parked up, we got going and then stopped, got going and stopped… The wind was very unstable and our tactician Erwan Israel suggested a different route to that of our opponents. While they left in search of wind on the French coast, we decided to head directly towards Yvoire. We went for the shortest distance option and it turned out to be the right call. 

    There were other important moments throughout the race, but this was the last one because it meant Ladycat powered by Spindrift could get past Yvoire ahead of the fleet and reach the ‘Sechard’ that was blowing in the narrower part of the lake first. When I saw that the water jet was switched off, I told the crew that we would carry the ‘Sechard’ all the way to the finish. 

    Q: Xavier, what do you think is the secret to a successful Bol d’Or Mirabaud?

    XR: I don’t know whether there is a secret to a successful Bol d’Or – and if there is, then I don’t know it! We approach it as a traditional regatta, knowing that it will be different. In fact, it is mainly from a strategic and tactical point of view that it differs as it is a long distance race. The playing field is obviously much bigger than a Grand Prix made up of 30-minute races. Other than that, we operate as we usually do: get a good start so that we can execute our strategy and our race, be aware that we will not always be in the right place at the right time and keep a high level of fighting spirit throughout the race.

    Q: Robin, what have you learned and what would you do differently?

    RM: I think being better prepared would have helped us a lot, otherwise I’m very happy with how we raced. We sailed our own race without being influenced. 

    Q: Will you be on the start line next year?

    RM: I will be yes, and I’ll be as motivated as ever!

    Q: Xavier – as defender of the 2016 edition, are you feeling any pressure going into the next event?

    XR: This Ladycat powered by Spindrift victory will not affect the pressure that I usually have going into a race. Pressure encourages development, it makes you ask the right questions, it helps you focus. Adding another victory to those of 2010 and 2014 shows that Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard, co-founders of the Spindrift Racing squad, have created a solid team that is constantly in pursuit of performance. The work, the preparation and the professionalism make up the pressure that we know every time we set foot on a boat in Spindrift colors. 

    Winter programme 

    © Loris von Siebenthal

    Nine months ahead of the event, the organizers have announced the date of the 79th edition. Put 16-18 June 2017 in your agendas!

    This autumn, the Organizing Committee will host the traditional volunteers’ party which serves to thank the volunteers for their commitment and work during the busy Bol d’Or weekend. “The party will be in mid-October and gives us the opportunity to thank everyone but also to launch the recruitment for the next edition,” said Laurence Zanon, event director. 

    The last few months have been dedicated to debrief sessions. “Once these are completed, we will get started with preparations for the next edition,” explained Laurence. “A number of ideas come from these discussions; we study the feasibility of each one and retain those that we will implement in 2017 or 2018.”

    The Société Nautique de Genève is currently in talks with the CGN as it would like to promote public access to the race course aboard the iconic steamboats of Lake Geneva. Stay tuned…

    Media statistics 2015-2016

    The 2016 edition of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud achieved excellent media coverage across print, TV and radio throughout Switzerland with a value calculated by Argus de la Presse set at 600,000 CHF. 

    This figure may seem anecdotal, however it has real value for some Bol d’Or Mirabaud competitors that are sponsored, whether by a large bank or a watchmaker, or even by a smaller more local company as is often the case. 

    We are delighted to make these statistics available – please feel free to use them as part of your sponsorship pitches for the 2017 edition of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud. 

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